Ardo irrigation project

In the context of its sustainable environmental policy, deepfreeze vegetable company Ardo aims to close the water cycle.  This is why, in 2019, Ardo completed an irrigation project in which the purified effluent of the water treatment plant is directly used as irrigation water in the surrounding agricultural area with approximately 670 ha of irrigated crops.

A buffer basin (110,000 m3) and a pumping station was constructed for this purpose on Ardo’s company premises. In addition, an underground pipeline network (32 km) was constructed, to allow the water to flow from the buffer basin to the surrounding agricultural area. The direct use of effluent from the water treatment plant as irrigation water is a new approach and that required effort to obtain the necessary permits from various government bodies.

The quality of the irrigation water is closely being monitored and reported to the relevant government organisations. For example, it was decided that the concentration of nutrients in the irrigation water was to be closely monitored and that the results were to be reported to the Mestbank – an organisation that helps farmers understand and comply with manure legislation. This way, on the basis of the irrigation quality monitoring programme and the registration of the quantity of irrigation water, an exact calculation can be made of the quantity of nutrients that must be recorded in the manure balance sheet of the relevant agricultural farms. In addition, Inagro, a consultancy firm that specialises in research and advice in agriculture and horticulture, is developing a new strategy for the distribution of the irrigation water that takes the specific crop, climatological conditions, soil type and more into account.

For this project, Witteveen+Bos was appointed to assess current effluent quality and to determine the additional control measures needed in the event that the effluent is intensively used as irrigation water. Following a thorough evaluation, specific measures were proposed to control the irrigation water’s salt concentration.

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